• Christoffer
    1.3k
    That there exist laws of nature is debated.Olivier5

    Do you mean to say that there are now laws of nature? Like, you don't fall to the ground if you jump out the window? There's no gravity, it's just in your head?

    But we know for sure that certain human beings historically did put together the concepts, the math and the interpretation of General Relativity. They did not receive those things from the gods.Olivier5

    Who's saying anything about gods? We didn't invent general relativity, we discovered these fundamental functions of reality, and we invented concepts to be able to calculate, measure and harness those functions. I absolutely don't understand how you can attribute a scientific discovery with either it coming from gods or that it was invented by us, that's just a fundamentally wrong way of viewing all of this.
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    Phenomenology as the basis for quantum physics...?Banno

    No, just that the nature of measuring and also observing is a large part of that research. It's also fundamental to understanding quantum physics that our mathematical equations detach themselves from the internal logic of our human perception. You can logically understand most concepts in science through our human perception, but much of quantum physics breaks down time and space so fundamentally chaotic that anyone researching this field needs to heavily conceptualize past our own internal logic. Phenomenology puts a spotlight on the difference between our internal, human perception of something and the actual reality we measure and research. That is what I meant, not that phenomenology "founded" quantum physics.

    Hmm. "derived" might not be the right word here. Russell's project failed. We know that for any mathematical axiomatisation there will be truths that cannot be derived.Banno

    My point was merely that the logic of math for measuring reality does not rely on our perception or the "aesthetics" of math as an invented language. While we are limited by the invention of the language of math, the equations used can often lead to discoveries through pure logic rather than us inventing something as an interpretation. This is why I think people get confused thinking we "invent theories". General relativity, for instance, wasn't invented, it was discovered, and upon that a theory was formed that we tested and verified predictably, and later harnessed the theory to make inventions like GPS. What I object against is people arguing that our consciousness forms reality, rather than reality existing and us just having a limited ability to experience it through our perception. Such arguments usually end up in us "inventing" our scientific discoveries and theories, which is a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works.
  • Banno
    17.8k
    I'm not following this at all.

    It's also fundamental to understanding quantum physics that our mathematical equations detach themselves from the internal logic of our human perception.Christoffer

    I've no idea what that might mean. "the internal logic of our human perception"?

    Phenomenology puts a spotlight on the difference between our internal, human perception of something and the actual reality we measure and research.Christoffer

    Where? What could an "internal, human perception of something" be?

    My point was merely that the logic of math for measuring reality does not rely on our perception or the "aesthetics" of math as an invented language.Christoffer

    Seems to me that we can make up whatever pure maths we like, then choose some of that to make use of in describing how things are. So we do make maths up.
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    "the internal logic of our human perception"Banno

    For example, how we perceive time makes us bad at conceptualizing a hypothesis that handles time fundamentally different from our experience. If we do chemistry, as an easy comparison, we can both conceptualize and experience the science between two components mixing, like if something gets hot when mixed together, not only does the science end up logically, we can also experience it, i.e it has a human internal logic to it. From our perceptual perspective, it's extremely different to grasp time as something other than how we experience it, even if the quantum equations or measurable results point in directions that feel alien to our perception.

    Where? What could an "internal, human perception of something" be?Banno

    Your perception of time is extremely subjective, even though, by basic calculations, you and I would actually exist through time with slight differences due to general relativity. So on one hand we experience and perceive time in a way that feels "normal", while at the same time it makes it hard for us to conceptualize the idea that we might be temporally out of sync when measured. We perceive something and then there's how reality actually is.

    Seems to me that we can make up whatever pure maths we like, then choose some of that to make use of in describing how things are. So we do make maths up.Banno

    Just because complex physics equations seem more fluid compared to 2 + 2 = 4, doesn't mean it's less logical than it. We can make up whatever we like for the language of math, but when applied to predicting events in reality, in physics, then the logic of the calculation cannot be broken. Not sure what kind of "made-up" math you are talking about? There's a difference between the invented language and how that language functions. Mathematical language differs from normal communication language in that there's no interpretational relativity for something like, for instance, "2". It is what it is, regardless of what we believe or want to attribute to it. It will always be our language of saying "2" of something, but there's nothing changing the meaning of "2", it is what it is. If we say "cat" that has almost infinite interpretational values based on the situation, but "2 cats" simply means "there are 2 of that something we can infinitely interpret from the word "cat". Of course, we can continue into 20th-century philosophy with things like "there are 0 cats on the drawer", and find all kinds of absurdities through language interpretations, but none of that really applies to the scientific application of the mathematical language.

    And the accurate predictability of the mathematical language pretty much confirms the underlying logic of it and how it transcends any other language in terms of how little it can be subjectively interpreted.
  • Richard B
    105
    But I'm not talking about what practically matters. I'm talking about what matters to the philosophical questions on epistemology and ontology. We want to know if the things we see exist independently of us, and if they are (independently) as they appear to be. We want to know if a thing's appearance justifies any claims we make about what that thing is (independently) like. If you're not interested in these questions then by all means ignore them, but if you are then you can't address them simply by arguing that "I see a tree" is the conventional way to speak in English, and this seems to be where so many in this discussion get lost.Michael


    I think we both would agree that Pragmatism is consider a philosophical approach that was expressed in the 19th and 20th century by philosophers such as C. Peirce, W. James, and J. Dewey. These philosophers dealt with these very issues that are being discussed in this post. For example, Peirce asked his readers to consider the following: what is wrong with the following theory, a diamond is actually soft, and only becomes hard when it is touched. Peirce thought there is no way of disproving it; however, he claimed that the meaning of a concept (such as "Diamond" or "Hard") is derived from the object or quality that the concept relates to and the effects it has on our senses. Whether we think of the diamond as "soft until touched" or "always hard" before our experience, therefore, is irrelevant. Under both theories the diamond feels the same, and can be used in the same way. However, the first theory is far more difficult to work with, so of less value.

    Pragmatism. Ordinary Language philosophers, and Logical Positivist are philosophical traditions that have attempted to delineate what is meaningful vs what is non-sense. So, what is discussed in epistemology and ontology is fair game. We all learn words like "independent", "appears", "exist" in the ordinary course of life. However, if one takes the ordinary concepts and starts putting a metaphysical spin to them; followers of aforementioned traditions start to smell something fishy. Now I am sympathetic to the idea that one can treat ordinary language a bit sacrosanct and not appreciate its disposition to keep evolving (as Quine so nicely put). But like evolution, ideas will survive or perish, and one of driving forces that picks a winner would be the practical value it has upon the human beings that use them.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    We didn't invent general relativity, we discovered these fundamental functions of reality, and we invented concepts to be able to calculate, measure and harness those functions.Christoffer

    They said the same thing about the universal gravitation theory of Isaac Newton. Until it was superseded by a better theory: Einstein's. What makes you certain that GR won't be discarded as incomplete or imperfect in the future?
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    They said the same thing about the universal gravitation theory of Isaac Newton. Until it was superseded by a better theory: Einstein's. What makes you certain that GR won't be discarded as incomplete or imperfect in the future?Olivier5

    That's not how science works. Theories don't get thrown out of the window because something else explains things better, they get added, and mixed together, one theory helps explain something else further or helps explain problems with the first theory.

    This is the problem with people today using science in their arguments, against or for something. The deep misunderstanding of how the process actually works. Before understanding the basics of how science is conducted, people use scientific findings as major parts of their arguments. For example, the entire global debate around vaccines has been infected by the low-quality understanding of the science surrounding vaccines. For a layman to understand science and physics or at least the ramifications of those things, it requires daily studies on the subject. Far too many read some summary in "Science" and think they understand the world, they don't. Understanding science requires understanding the process, the practice, the history, and the terminology long before even touching upon the actual theories and hypotheses presented.

    Newton's laws haven't been discarded, they have been explained better. Just like Higgs explained mass better than before.

    Do you think GPS devices will stop working because a new theory explains the behavior of general relativity better? No, they work because the theory is valid and any new theory will only add to it and explain it better or more broadly. If a theory didn't work, we couldn't utilize it for inventions that function on top of these universal physics. All the inventions using Newton's laws of physics didn't magically stop working when Einstein presented his findings.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    That's not how science works. Theories don't get thrown out of the window because something else explains things better, they get added, and mixed together, one theory helps explain something else further or helps explain problems with the first theory.Christoffer

    There are revolutions in science though, such as the Copernican revolution.
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    There are revolutions in science though, such as the Copernican revolution.Olivier5

    And the history of science has gone from religious hogwash to modern science that focuses primarily on detaching itself from our cognitive biases. And my argument regarding human perception in relation to our scientific findings and how reality is not derived from our consciousness is not dependent on the history of science. Also, back in those days, there wasn't anything called science, it was metaphysics, philosophy, and it didn't have any of the scrutinies applied even close to how things are conducted today. Only the old theories that didn't apply biases are the ones that have survived into better forms today, like in the case of Newton. Most of the modern ways of conducting science have been developed from the 19th century up until today. This is what I meant with:

    Understanding science requires understanding the process, the practice, the history, and the terminology long before even touching upon the actual theories and hypotheses presented.Christoffer
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    As a matter of fact, I have a much better understanding of science, its methods, history and current status than you seem to believe, on the rather flimsy basis of a mere epistemological disagreement between us.
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    As a matter of fact, I have a much better understanding of science, its methods, history and current status than you seem to believe, on the rather flimsy basis of a mere epistemological disagreement between us.Olivier5

    That is kind of the equivalent of saying you know better because you say you know better. But your argument doesn't show that understanding. Come to think of it, I'm not really grasping what it is you really argue for, you just make comments on what I write rather than present a case. So far it seems you argue for reality deriving from our consciousness? That's how I interpret the way you comment on what I write, objecting to the conclusions I made. What's the point you're arguing for?
  • Banno
    17.8k
    From our perceptual perspective, it's extremely different to grasp time as something other than how we experience it, even if the quantum equations or measurable results point in directions that feel alien to our perception.Christoffer

    I still don't see how. We "grasp" periods of billions of years and billionths of seconds, and calculate accurate relativistic times.

    Your perception of time is extremely subjective,Christoffer
    Not if I use a clock. In any case, there is more to a conception of time than mere perception. A child knows that an hour can go in a flash or take an age.

    You seemed to indicate a relation between phenomenology and physics, but what that might be remains obscure.
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    I still don't see how. We "grasp" periods of billions of years and billionths of seconds, and calculate accurate relativistic times.Banno

    We conceptualize through proving behaviors of such things through physics equations and verified tests. If our tests can predict behaviors of matter and time that we can't really sense, we can conceptualize by knowing facts about the universe. A case point is how we didn't know how a black hole would look, but that our physics equations pointed towards a visualization that we could simulate and therefore, in the movie Interstellar, Kip Thorne collaborated with the visualization in order to create a physics accurate representation of how a black hole would look like. Later, when we generated the first ever image of a black hole (my profile picture here), it showed the accretion disk and formation basically exactly like how we predicted, except for the redshift difference.

    Not if I use a clock. In any case, there is more to a conception of time than mere perception. A child knows that an hour can go in a flash or take an age.Banno

    No, it is still very subjective. Not only in the way you describe it, which would be the phenomenological way of describing it but also in how general relativity means that if you are closer or further from a gravitational hot spot it would mean that our actual temporal relation is off. If I'm closer to a massive object I will grow older slower than you, even if on earth we can only calculate it by maybe a few seconds over the course of a lifetime.

    This is the reason why I bring up GPS, because the clocks need to be synced with the devices on earth in order to track correctly, and because of relativity, the clocks have been adapted to tick differently to compensate for each other's temporal difference due to gravitational differences.

    You seemed to indicate a relation between phenomenology and physics, but what that might be remains obscure.Banno

    There's no material relation, that's exactly what I object against. I'm saying that phenomenology is a great tool for us to use in order to include human perception as part of how to explain our existence and the universe. For example, the basic point in relativity; that two people going at different speeds will in relation to each other experience a temporal shift; the larger the difference, the larger the shift; but the subjective experience of the two persons will not change, they will experience their own time as if nothing has changed. So including phenomenology into how we conduct physics makes it easier to conceptualize concepts that are very alien to us. We need to relate an experience to the raw data of the universe in order to understand what that data means.
  • Banno
    17.8k
    For example, the basic point in relativity; that two people going at different speeds will in relation to each other experience a temporal shift; the larger the difference, the larger the shift; but the subjective experience of the two persons will not change, they will experience their own time as if nothing has changed.Christoffer

    The "basic point" of relativity is that the laws of physics are the same for all observers.

    Your two people will objectively agree that time is slower for one than the other. It's not an example of a subjective, phenomenological difference.

    The notion that phenomenalism is central to physics is flawed.
  • Pie
    553
    The "basic point" of relativity is that the laws of physics are the same for all observers.Banno

    :up:
  • Pie
    553
    So, it seems material objects are actually theoretical constructs, i.e., ideas we experience based on our sensory input.Art48

    So it seems that sense organs (material objects among others, after all) are theoretical constructs, ideas we experience based on sensory input....wait a minute !
  • Pie
    553
    Kant has a lot to answer for.

    The hypothesis is that what we see might be totally different to a conjectured, inaccessible world about which we can say nothing.

    ...

    One can't have it both ways, supposing that the hypothesised unseen world both causes what we see and yet remains outside of our considerations.

    This applies to the vatted brain. Should one hypothesis that what one sees is an illusion, one thereby hypothesises a meta-world, a world in which the illusion may take place. For the vatted brain, this is the vat; for Neo, his pod. What one cannot conclude is that everything is an illusion.

    If the phenomenalist supposes that we cannot deduce from our perceptions what the world is like, he has been shown to be mistaken. If the phenomenalist supposes that we cannot say anything about how the world actually is, his view is utterly irrelevant.
    Banno

    All well said.

    I think there's a POV trick to be sussed out here. We see others from the outside and ourselves from the inside. So it's plausible that individuals depend on their sense organs and brain as mediators for them of their environment. But if we try to build only from the inside, we talk nonsense. We call everything sense-data while ( pretending to be ) no longer taking the sense organs and objects affecting them in the 'outside' or 'public' world for granted. The stereoscopic key may be remembering that the entities populating the 'inner' and 'outer' worlds are part of the same causal/explanatory nexus. It's problematic to make a wish more or less real than an electron. Kant rather madly jettisoned all the stuff he depended on, radicalizing Locke or Hobbes perhaps to the point of absurdity, respected only because he also wrote lots of non-insanity.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    That is kind of the equivalent of saying you know better because you say you know better.Christoffer

    No, just saying you tend to assume a bit too much about what I know, based on too little. A mere philosophical disagreement is insufficient ground to conclude that someone doesn't know the history of science.

    What's the point you're arguing for?Christoffer

    That science is a human activity, and hence inherently subjective. A scientist is and can only be a subject, i.e. a spectator and actor in/at the world.
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    The "basic point" of relativity is that the laws of physics are the same for all observers.

    Your two people will objectively agree that time is slower for one than the other. It's not an example of a subjective, phenomenological difference.

    The notion that phenomenalism is central to physics is flawed.
    Banno

    I think you basically misunderstand everything I say. I didn't say phenomenalism is central to physics, I said it helps conceptualize the theories presented in physics. How we experience the world and universe in relation to how it actually functions. But you twist that into it being central to tha actual theories, which isn't what I'm talking about.

    I also don't know what it is you are objecting against? My argument was about the notion that our consciousness is responsible for creating reality and how it is false, and that the only practical idea in phenomenology that is useful is how our experience, internal and subjective point of view, our senses, can relate to the raw reality as it is outside of our experience. I used the examples with science to point out how logic and mathematics, things that aren't "born out of our consciousness" but that work as a language to communicate about things that otherwise would have no way to be sensed by us and our consciousness alone, is a way to prove that our consciousness isn't creating anything. Using this language we can discover things that can later be tested and when verified it also verifies a reality past our subjective experience, i.e our consciousness does not create reality, we merely experience it in a limited way compared to how reality really is.

    So are you objecting against that? I just think the argument has been going around irrelevant circles to the original point I made.
  • Christoffer
    1.3k
    No, just saying you tend to assume a bit too much about what I know, based on too little. A mere philosophical disagreement is insufficient ground to conclude that someone doesn't know the history of science.Olivier5

    It's not the disagreement, it's how you talk about science that informs me. Especially in relation to our consciousness.

    That science is a human activity, and hence inherently subjective. A scientist is and can only be a subject, i.e. a spectator and actor in/at the world.Olivier5

    The scientist is a human, science is not. The whole point of science is to detach human biases and subjectivity in order to prove truths. That's the goal. Basically, every other activity we do is subjective, science's whole point is to not be that. It's what the entire history of science has been working towards, to reach better and better methods to reach truths about our reality.

    And it's this that informs me that you don't seem to grasp the difference between a human being subjective and the theories presented and proved. Higgs calculated a logic that isn't something subjective, it's logic. You can twist the subjective experience however you want, but something logic will remain logic regardless. And that logic predicts behavior and the existence of objects we've never even experienced, seen or known about. But since it's based on logic in a mathematical equation, it has a merit past our experience and consciousness, it can be tested and once we did, the Higgs particle was discovered, as predicted, now verified.

    Your argument is that Higgs somehow invented the Higgs particle through his physics equations and when we built the Atlas detector, it "created" that particle when it was detected. - An argument that is wildly bonkers and needs much more elaboration.
  • Pie
    553
    The notion that phenomenalism is central to physics is flawed.Banno

    I agree, but it's tempting to those who think from the sense-data model. "All the scientist ever 'really sees' is some immaterial stuff he calls 'red.' " This is why Popper's move is good. Avoid ghost talk. Especially at the (apparent?) foundation(s).
  • Pie
    553
    Whether we think of the diamond as "soft until touched" or "always hard" before our experience, therefore, is irrelevant. Under both theories the diamond feels the same, and can be used in the same way. However, the first theory is far more difficult to work with, so of less value.Richard B

    :up:

    Peirce is great.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    The scientist is a human, science is not. The whole point of science is to detach human biases and subjectivity in order to prove truths.Christoffer

    That's a logical contradiction. Truth is generally defined as an accurate representation of some state of affairs. How can one get a representation -- accurate or not -- of some state of affairs without some guy doing the representing to some other guys?

    Another way to say the same thing is: truth requires a language, and a language requires several human subjects speaking it.
  • Pie
    553
    Another way to say the same thing is: truth requires a language, and a language requires several human subjects speaking it.Olivier5

    FWIW, I think you are both right. Take 'objective' in its pure sense as unbiased, and science's goal is to objectively settle what a community ought to believe about the world. I say 'ought' because a warranted belief may not be true. I take this to be a point about grammar and/or the concept of truth.

    Truth is generally defined as an accurate representation of some state of affairs.Olivier5

    This is an issue that I like to wrestle with. How can words be understood to represent nonwords ? That's like paint trying to be music. I think this is why Wittgenstein wrote that the world is all that is the case, a system of true statements. This seems less wrong than many alternatives.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    How can words be understood to represent nonwords ? That's like paint trying to be music. IPie

    Nope. That would be like paint trying to represent nonpaint, which is evidently possible and in fact done all the time. It's called figurative painting.
  • Pie
    553

    Could you provide an example of words representing nonwords ?
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    Take 'objective' in its pure sense as unbiased, and science's goal is to objectively settle what a community ought to believe about the world.Pie

    In that sense of the word 'objective', yes, but note that this type of objectivity is arrived at through an intersubjective process of shared observations ('facts') and debate over their correct (or best fit) interpretation. And the product of this process is still a representation, i.e. something different from the actual world. The map is not the territory.
  • Pie
    553
    And the product of this process is still a representation, i.e. something different from the actual world. The map is not the territory.Olivier5

    I was thinking of this on my bikeride this morning. 'The map is not the territory.' But what do we make of this ? At the moment, I think it's just the (grammatical) gap between a warranted belief and true belief. In other words, it expresses our caution, our finitude, our willingness to edit our governing beliefs.
  • Olivier5
    5.4k
    Could you provide an example of words representing nonwords ?Pie

    When you write some text, do you generally mean what you write? Since you are writing to me, isn't the word 'you' in the sentence above, supposed to mean something, such as me myself and I? Isn't the word 'example' intended to call up or evoke some sort of thing, such as the examples I am writing about right now?
  • Pie
    553
    such as the examples I am writing about right now?Olivier5

    Of course I know what you are getting at, but then here we are in language trying to gesture beyond it.
    My point was coming from a perspective influenced by Popper and Sellars. When we reason, it's all just discussing claims. Even 'experience' only enters in as premises which aren't the conclusions of inferences, such as Popper's basic statements...those we tentatively take without justification.
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